Jema Galanza: Queen Falcon on the rise

Mark Escarlote on Jan 28, 2017 05:01 PM
Jema Galanza: Queen Falcon on the rise
Gusto ko makilala ako na napa-Final Four ko ang team, na nadala ko ang team -- Jema Galanza

Jema Galanza playfully went up the stage inside the Dolphy Theatre in ABS-CBN trading a few jokes with her teammates.

But when the cameras started rolling, she was instantly in the zone slaying the OBB photo shoot, owning the spotlight in that moment.         

Galanza is expected to show that same focus and confidence when she leads a young Adamson Lady Falcons in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.

Now on her fourth year, Galanza faces a daunting task to improve the Lady Falcons’ finish this time after a three-win, seventh place windup last season.

With only a handful of holdovers to help her after the departure of key players Mylene Paat, Erika Alkuino and setter Fenela Emnas, the power hitter is hard-pressed to deliver much of the scoring load and to provide a strong leadership to a team filled with newcomers.

But it’s a role the 20-year-old player is willing to take by heart.   

“Parang napaisip ako kung ano ang gagawin ko kasi ako na lang ang natira sa amin,” she said. “Sabi ko na lang, ilaban ko na ‘to hindi na ako puwedeng umatras.”

Under a new system introduced by American mentor Airess Padda and an all-female coaching staff composed of former UAAP stars Michele Gumabao, Cherry Macatangay and Angeli Tabaquero, Galanza hopes that Adamson could turn things around this season.  

She pointed out that the lessons and experiences shared by their coaches especially from the former UAAP players, changed their outlook and approach of the game, mentally preparing them for the battles ahead.

“Actually lahat naman silang coaches namin may lagi silang tinuturo sa aming bago. Hindi lang sa physical pero sa mental din,” said Galanza, who played for Laoag in  the V-League during the offseason. “So ang mga experiences ni coach Angge dati sine-share niya sa amin. Maganda rin kasi nakakakuha kami ng mga technique niya lalo na sa receive. Kasi magaling si coach Angge doon at talagang pag nagkakamali kami tinututukan niya especially ‘yung mga liberos.” 

From being a quiet hitter inside the court, Galanza admitted that she might show a little bit of swag this time to fire up the team, an influence from former De La Salle player and three-time UAAP champion Gumabao.

“Ayan (angas) sobra po, sinasabi niya (Gumabao) na kapag kunwari na-net ka ‘wag mo ipapakita na nagkamali ka kailangan actress ka sa loob ng court,” she said. “Tapos kapag nakikipaglaro siya sa amin ‘yung talagang ang angas niya lumalabas din parang nakakagana rin kasi mismong coach mo ganadong maglaro at makipag-train sa amin.”

 

Winning her personal battles

The year 2016 was a challenging one for Galanza.

It was the second straight year that Adamson failed to advance in the semifinals.

But the biggest challenge that Galanza had to face last year was the untimely passing of her sister, Justine, last July due to heart complications.

“Masakit talaga yun kasi isa siya talaga sa nanonood ng games ko,” said Galanza.

“Noong simula noong nawala siya inspirasyon ko na siya every game ko. Lagi siyang nasa prayers ko na i-guide niya ako at siyempre na sana mag-watch din siya (sa games ko) kahit kasama na siya ni God. Sana proud siya sa akin,” said Galanza of her sister, the second in the brood of four girls. “Siya ang ate ko na bully din na nagsasabi sa akin na, “Ano ba yan talo kayo”. Kapag natatalo kami aasarin niya ako tapos pag-uwi ko ganoon din. Sasabihan niya ako kung ang mali namin sa laro. Observant siyang tao.”

Galanza can be considered as one of the most conditioned hitters in the field today physically but there was a time that many doubted her because of her weight.   

“May nagsasabi sa akin noon na ang taba ko nga raw, makakatalon ba ako? Na-motivate ako doon kasi sa akin parang ang sakit naman na sasabihan mo ako na ang taba ko,” recalled Galanza, daughter of a volleyball coach and teacher in San Pedro, Laguna. “Pero sa akin, “di mo pa nga ako nakikitang maglaro kung makalait ka sa akin.” Pero ‘yun nga itinuloy ko pa rin na magpapayat and nakikita naman na mas gumanda ang laro ko.” 

After successfully hurdling those challenges, Galanza said that she’s now more than ready to march ahead and rally the Lady Falcons back to a Final Four spot and hopefully to the throne that the school has yet to own. 

“‘Yun din talaga ang goal ko (makapasok sa Final Four) ayaw ko naman makilala lang ako kasi sa Adamson ako, na dahil naglaro ako ng UAAP gusto ko makilala ako na napa-Final Four ko ang team. Na nadala ko ang team,” Galanza proudly said.

 

 

 

 

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles

 

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